There's a whirlwind of content worth diving into from this week's Game of Thrones, but nothing has stood out to me quite as much as two words Arya gleefully told her opponent post battle: No one. Whether you realized or not, her choice of words elegantly tied together two characters fans have long speculated are the same: Arya's mentors Jaqen H'ghar and Syrio Forel. WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4, "The Spoils of War."
The Faceless Mentor
Sparring with Brienne of Tarth in the courtyard of Winterfell, Arya held her own using the Braavosi Water Dance sword fighting technique. When it was clear that neither warrior could best the other, Brienne asked the young Stark, "Who taught you to do that?" Arya quickly replied, "No one."
At first, this line seems like a simple reference to Jaqen H'ghar and the Faceless Men. However, recall that Arya did zero sword training in the House of Black and White during Seasons 5 and 6. Instead, it was Syrio Forel who taught Arya Water Dancing all the way back in Season 1. By using the Faceless Men's motto to reference Syrio, Arya may have finally confirmed that Syrio, Jaqen and the Faceless Men are, in fact, one and the same.
For years viewers have speculated on the fate of Syrio Forel, who was presumed to have died off screen in Season 1. Many didn't quite buy that the masterful Water Dancer would go down so easily, especially after just mowing down a room full of guards while defending Arya.
At the same time, fans have wondered about the origins of Jaqen H'ghar. Specifically, how a skillfully trained assassin could have allowed himself to end up in the cells of King's Landing.
One popular theory is that Syrio is a Faceless Man, and between his last scene in Season 1 and Jaqen's introduction in Season 2, Syrio snuck into the cells, stole a face, and took on the identity of Jaqen H'ghar until Arya could find him.
Show Versus Book
Based solely on the books, this theory had little evidence. However, it became more believable in Season 5 when the show simplified the House of Black and White arc by bringing back Jaqen to replace the Kindly Man character from the books.
So the show re-wrote Jaqen to stand in for at least one character, but could he be more? Both Jaqen and Syrio are Braavosi living in King's Landing, with one not appearing until the other disappears. Syrio was the first person to introduce Arya to Braavosi culture, and is best known for his line, "What do we say to the God of Death?" Meanwhile, Jaqen worships within a temple in Braavos built for the God of Death, the House of Black and White.
We know Jaqen can take on many faces. We know Syrio follows Braavosi religion and knows about the God of Death. Now, Arya uses Jaqen's vocabulary to reference Syrio. If the "Syrio Forel = Jaqen H'ghar" theory is real, the evidence has never been stronger.
What's more interesting is the thought that Arya may have known about this for much longer than the viewer. Arya very casually told Brienne that "no one," a.k.a. the Faceless Men, taught her to Water Dance. There was no shock or revelation in her delivery, implying this is something she's known for some time. This potentially rewrites the entire relationship and training arc of Season 5 and 6 if Arya knew all along (or at least for a while) that she was under Syrio's wing.
Don't Trust Anyone
Yes, Maisie Williams technically shot down the theory last year in an interview with IGN, but she did so based on what she was told by showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. Of course, those two have been known to stretch the truth about character deaths before in the interest of hiding spoilers; they spent months telling reporters and fans that Jon Snow's time on the show was done after Season 5, only for you-know-who to return in Season 6.
Having Arya tell Brienne that no one trained her beautifully rewrites Arya's seven-season-long journey. It transforms the arc from something of a disjointed web of events into a single globetrotting training session with one mentor.
The Kindly Man is Jaqen. Jaqen is Syrio. Syrio is No One.
Do you believe that Jaqen and Syrio are the same? Did Arya's "No one" line change your mind? Let us know in the comments and share with your friends!